Cheap Trick If you’re a political figure, there is nothing cooler you can do nowadays than go one-on-one with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. But imagine if you’re a musician, and already a reasonably cool one at that, and you appear on the show not to spar with the bespectacled faux-conservative, but to do what you do best: shred a double-neck guitar. Your hipness levels would soar through the friggin’ roof! That’s exactly what happened when Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen joined in an all-star jam on the show’s theme song at the end of the mock news commentary program a few months ago. And not only that, but Nielsen wrote the damn song, too! Suffice to say, Nielsen, and by proxy Cheap Trick, are just about the coolest late-1970s rockers on the planet right now. But anyone who has ever listened to — and inevitably sang along with — hits like “Surrender,” “Dream Police” and, of course, “I Want You To Want Me,” already knows that. Cheap Trick performs at the Canyon on Feb. 23.
DMX It’s unfortunate that Earl Simmons, known to the hardcore hip-hop world as DMX, has allowed recent personal controversies away from the mic to overshadow what an intense, raw performer he truly is. Because back in the late 1990s, there were few rappers in the game rugged enough to step to him. Not only was he one of hip-hop’s grittiest characters, he was also one of its most successful. His first four albums debuted at Number One — an unprecedented feat for any artist — each one producing a handful of radio hits that managed to be commercial and street-credible at the same time. He also made forays into acting, starring in action films alongside Jet Li and Steven Seagal. But then his criminal past started to come back to haunt him, and after a series of run-ins with the law, it appeared the heir apparent to Tupac’s throne had squandered his talent. All is not lost, however, as proven by last year’s Year of the Dog…Again, and will be confirmed when DMX performs at the Ventura Theater on Feb. 23.
Craig Robinson You may know Craig Robinson as Darryl, the warehouse supervisor on NBC’s hit version of The Office. On the show, Robinson is known for handling the absurdity of Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott with a calm attitude and dry humor. And, on a recent Christmas episode, we learned he plays the synthesizer. As a standup comedian in real life, Robinson does all these things, too — although he’s probably never met anyone close to as, um, odd as Michael. Get ready to fleece it out when Robinson appears at Comedy Esquire on Feb. 23 and 24.